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Remote counseling services available for NCNU community

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As Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) extends nationwide Level 3 epidemic alert to June 28 to combat the recent surge in local COVID-19 cases, National Chi Nan University (NCNU) has successfully applied for a government permit to offer remote counseling and telemental health services during this period of remote learning.

In Taiwan, law stipulates that a clinical psychologist must procure prior authorization from the relevant authorities before qualifying for remote therapy sessions. The NCNU Counseling Center has just received its permit from the Nantou County Government Public Health Bureau. From prolonged isolation during the pandemic to the stress of graduation, all students and members of the campus community are encouraged to utilize the university's e-counseling system and other support services starting today.

NCNU President Dr. Dong-Sing Wuu (武東星) stated that the university counsels an average of 1,800 individuals per year, including 218 high-risk students. Apart from recruiting more emergency personnel to help with the current demand for mental health services due to the duress of the pandemic and stress of separation during graduation season, the school plans to enlarge its remote counseling program on a more permanent basis for the upcoming semester as well.

Lin Yu-chan (李玉嬋), chair of Taiwan Medical and Health Counseling Psychology Association (TWMHCPA), explained that since NCNU switched to digital learning on May 17 following the Ministry of Education's pandemic management procedures, the university has been trying to secure a permit from the Nantou County Government Public Health Bureau. Now certified, NCNU has been monitoring the wellbeing of its students and staff through outreach programs for at-risk students and documenting their progress with respect for privacy and data security.

The NCNU Counseling Center is also devising new strategies for providing more timely information on gender equality, relationships and sex education (RSE), sexual assault, intimate partner violence (IPV), and suicide prevention during this period of remote learning.

As head of the Counseling Center, Tseng Ching-mei (曾敬梅) explained that NCNU has offered phone-based audio counseling for several years, but the current pandemic crisis has turned into an opportunity for the university to develop a comprehensive digital program for offering video therapy and support as well. Tseng noted that online appointments may be more suited to meet the needs of this new generation of internet-savvy students.

To reach Taiwan's national suicide prevention hotline, just dial "1925" for a free call.

Taipei Times Editorial: Mental health crucial during outbreak (June 16) 

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